Thursday, May 19, 2011

“So Far Away” – 5 Centimeters Per Second (anime)- 10/10 Flowers

We're two ships passing/At a distance/Through the darkness. ~”Journey On” from Ragtime

Genre: Romance/Drama/Slice-of-Life

Review Status: Complete (1 Movie/1 Movie)

Licensed: Yes, this anime is licensed in the US

Art/Animation: Beyond gorgeous. This is the most visually stunning anime I’ve seen- the way shadow and light plays on glass and objects, the shimmer of heat waves, the rich, vibrant colors that saturate your tv (or computer screen, depending on how you’re viewing it)… There is nothing that I can criticize in this department! The same goes for the animation. It’s brilliantly smooth and realistic.

Dub Vs Sub: It’s a rare day that any dub studio other than Disney manages to do children’s voices correctly. This was not one of them. Both of our female leads were clearly older women heightening their pitch to sound younger. Same for the boy. Also, the acting was far more stilted in the dub, though it got better as the movie went on. The sub edges it out, though, both for the quality of the voice actors and the fluidness of the acting.

Summary: Witness the story of Tatatki, a young man on a journey from Tokyo to reunite with his childhood best friend, Akari. Feel his emotions superimposed on the gorgeous, heavily researched and impressively animated backdrops of Japan as he travels by train to see her. Join Takaki on three interconnected tailes of love and lost innocence that span the minutes and months of their lives. 5 Centimeters Per Second, the speed at which the cherry blossoms fall from the trees, reminiscent of the pace of life as our lives intermingle. (Back of DVD cover)

Review: This movie is divided into three parts: A Tale of Cherry Blossoms, Cosmonaut, and 5 Centimeters Per Second. Each tells a part of the story of the character’s lives. All have the director’s trademark themes of time and distance weaving through them, and if you’re familiar with his other works, then you’ll also see his fondness for sci-fi come into play.

In A Tale of Cherry Blossoms, you see the first couple- two children, Takaki and Akari, as they go through the later years of elementary school and jr. high together. Childhood friends, their relationships is looked on teasingly by their classmates and they were just friends- until a final move tears them apart for a while. There’s something about first love that’s poignant- we remember it fondly, with smiles and regret, since first loves are usually just those- firsts. This dove right into the relationship, most of it narrated via letters, and from Takaki’s point of view: The one who was being left behind as his first love moved, came back, and then had to leave once more. At the tender age of thirteen, he gives a final push to tell her his feelings and make them clear. It’s almost impossible to be drawn in as his struggle to tell her encounters little problems that soon become hurdles, ones that he does manage to overcome with perseverance but at a great cost to their relationship- one that she pays, too.

Cosmonaut is a slice of life later in Takaki’s years, told through the eyes of another girl that has come to love him. Now in his senior year of high school, Sakae doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life, and desperately wants to tell him how she feels. Takaki, though, has his eyes and heart elsewhere. Sakae’s story isn’t quite as sorrowful as the first one, but it nonetheless allows for us to see where he is in his mind, and how others see him.

5 Centimeters Per Second is where the conclusion is. Through music and montage, we see where they came from in life, the little things that they saw and did, and where they are going in the future. First loves are never quite forgotten, but we still go on to lead our own lives regardless. There may be brief moments of remembrance, but in the end, life is what it is.

One of the interesting things is seeing how all these come together to create a beautiful story- distance is told time and again: 5 Centimeters, 5 kilometers, 8 kilometers, 1 centimeter. Time has clearly passed in each of the segments, and at each stage of his life something is happening. And yet, you see how time hasn’t affected Takaki at all... Or one could say that he’s stuck in time, with that noted in a particular background song played in the third segment. There are little things in this that add to the beauty of the movie, such as the background music (exceptionally beautiful piano scores), and how realistic it can seem. After all, who really forgets their first love?

Overall, this is a terrific film, and anyone who has a fondness for romance and first loves should definitely see it.

Recommended: Um, yes! The content is 13+ appropriate, though those about 13 or so might be bored with the slow pace and story that is told mostly through narration. The worst thing that is in here is one short scene where Sakae is wrapped up in a blanket, with one bare shoulder (and I do mean just her shoulder showing), along with the strap of her bra having slid down her arm. It’s a completely non-sexual scene, and in fact, I mistook her bra strap for the strap of a tank top or spaghetti-strap top at first. Takaki as an adult is seen smoking, and a few cans are scattered around his apartment, though since in Japan those hold anything from beer to coffee to fruit juice, you can just assume they’re for pop. There are two brief scenes of him actually drinking in a bar that last for perhaps two seconds during a montage in the last segment, and in that same one there is a scene of Takaki and a girl (assumingly his girlfriend of 3 years) in bed, though it was so brief that I had to stop the dvd to really see what the picture was of- and it was him and her in the same bed, completely covered by the sheets and facing opposite directions.

Other titles you might enjoy:
Voices of a Distant Star (anime or manga)
Kanon (2006) (anime)
Millennium Actress (anime)
Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan (manga)
The Place Promised In Our Early Days (anime)
Victorian Romance Emma (anime and manga)
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (anime)

1 comment:

  1. You know, I get the idea that this film is a really divisive one - there are a lot of people that love it and think it's amazing, and many who think it's overrated. I fall somewhere in between. A beautiful film, to be sure (I am a Shinkai fan), but...I dunno, it just didn't entirely click with me. I thought the third section was creative, but I didn't get the feeling of loss and the melancholy of moving on that I think Shinkai wanted us to feel. Still, I think it's a very good movie and "Cosmonaut" is one of my very favorite pieces of anime.